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Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry Wilson, has informed that expansion of some 12 schools began from last year, and not in July this year.
“These were started from as far back as a year and a half ago and I hope that those who are always repeating that we started in July, will at last be able to learn and understand that we could not have started in July,” she emphasized.
The Minister, who was guest speaker at a function to launch the 2006/07 school year, today (September 14), at the Excelsior High School on Mountain View Avenue, explained that the $11 million disbursed to some regional institutions to effect minor repairs is not to be confused with the expansion of 12 schools and the construction of two new schools.
“In addition, four schools are being expanded this year and these have faced delays due to the recent cement shortage and other matters, but we are bringing those under control,” she said.
Minister Henry Wilson said extensive works were on-going that would result in a transformed education sector and will, “add value and bring about positive outcomes that can be sustained over the long haul”. She acknowledged that there were still challenges in a number of areas, but assured that the Ministry “continues to work towards addressing these problem areas, so that we can meet our commitments to educate our children and provide the best environment that fosters optimum teaching and learning, and promotes innovation and the sharing of experience”.
The Minister emphasized that the focus should be on the achievement of the nation’s children and how a collaborative effort could be harnessed towards this end.
Emphasizing the importance of continuity, Mrs. Henry Wilson said that, “we must bring our voices in concert to ensure that the changes we have begun, will continue to be implemented.in years ahead and redound to the benefit of every single child”.
“Something real is happening in the education sector [and] it is very important that we start the school year with one voice, all the stakeholders pointing in a similar direction,” she added.
The Minister said that the new school year brought both hope and new opportunities, “to evaluate our performance to do things better [and] to create change where there seemed to have been static”.
She implored stakeholders in education to make a conscious effort to build on what “we have started and to take the sector to higher heights where our achievements and processes, will reflect our combined desires and determination for excellence”.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), Hopeton Henry said that there was generally, a smooth start to the school year. He commended the Education Ministry for its efforts, despite the challenges.
“We in the Jamaica Teachers Association observe that the problems associated with the re-opening of school are not as widespread as last year. Innovative leadership at the school level must take the initiative to do forward planning to determine what resources are necessary and to pass this information on to the relevant authority ahead of time,” the JTA President said.